kids and screen time – Vandy Moms – May 1, 2014

Kids and Screen Time
Georgene Troseth
Department of Psychology & Human
Preschool learning
Babies becoming Einstein?
• Infants who watched “a popular infant DVD designed
to teach vocabulary” 5 times a week for a month (with
or without their parents) learned no more words than
children who were not exposed to the video at all.
• We gave parents of other infants a list of the
vocabulary words from the DVD and asked them to
teach their babies the words in any way that was
natural to them. These infants learned more words
than the other groups.
DeLoache, J.S., Chiong, C., Vanderborght, M., Sherman, K., Islam, N., Troseth, G.L.,
Strouse, G.A., & O’Doherty, K. (2010). Do babies learn from baby media?
Psychological Science. 21. 1570-1574. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610384145
Other video research with infants:
• Infants who watched more baby videos
tended to have less advanced language
• Infants who saw a Mandarin speaker talk
about toys face-to-face learned the sounds of
Mandarin, but infants who watched the
speaker on video did not
Toddlers and TV
• 2-year-olds learned much less from watching
an event on video than they did from
watching the same event directly through a
– finding hidden objects
– learning words
– imitating a new skill
Troseth, G. L., & DeLoache, J. S. (1998). The medium can obscure the message:
Young children's understanding of video. Child Development, 69, 950-965.
Toddlers are smart:
They’ve figured out TV is different from reality
• Giving them experience with “live” video (current
reality) improved learning
– Study 1: Watched themselves on live video
– Study 2: Toddlers and parents interacted with the
experimenter via closed-circuit video
Troseth, G. L., O’Doherty, K., & Strouse, G. A. (2013). Trusting the tube: New
information about an established technology. Zero to Three, 33, 25-30.
• Researchers now are looking at what young
children learn from Skype/FaceTime
Does it matter if parents co-view with children?
Parents tend to pause and ask their children questions while reading
books, but not while watching videos
• 3.5-year olds watched Scholastic video storybooks for 2 weeks:
– by themselves
– with parents who paused the videos and asked questions (“Dialogic
– with parents who paused the videos and pointed out information
• Children who watched along with parent questioning learned much
more vocabulary and story content
Strouse, G.A., O’Doherty, K.D., & Troseth, G.L. (2013). Effective Co-viewing:
Preschoolers’ Learning from Video After a Dialogic Questioning Intervention.
Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.1037/a0032463
What about watching TV?
• LOTS of evidence that watching educational programs such as
Sesame Street are beneficial for older preschoolers’ learning
(2.5-5 years):
Anderson, D.R., Huston, A.C., Schmitt, K.L., Linebarger, D.L. & Wright, J.C. (2001). Early
childhood television viewing and adolescent behavior: The Recontact Study.
Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. 68(1), Serial No.
264, 1-143.
• On the other hand, evidence that “background TV” (having
the TV always on in the background) is not good for children’s
Schmidt, M.E., Pempek, T.A., Kirkorian, H.L., Lund, A.F. & Anderson, D.R. (2008). The
effects of background television on the toy play behavior of very young children.
Child Development, 79, 1137-1151.
Does TV affect children’s self-control and focus
(“Executive function”)?
Immediate effect of watching different kinds of TV programs:
• “The goal of this research was to study whether a fast-paced
television show immediately influences preschool-aged children's
executive function (eg, self-regulation, working memory). Results:
Children who watched the fast-paced television cartoon performed
significantly worse on the executive function tasks than children in
the other 2 groups when controlling for child attention, age, and
television exposure. Conclusions: Just 9 minutes of viewing a fastpaced television cartoon had immediate negative effects on 4-yearolds' executive function. Parents should be aware that fast-paced
television shows could at least temporarily impair young children's
executive function.”
Does watching TV cause ADHD?
Barkley, R.A. (2004). ADHD and television exposure: Correlation as cause. The
ADHD Report: Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 1-4.
“As the authors rightly noted, this study can say absolutely nothing about
early TV exposure causing attention problems in children. And it surely
cannot speak to whether early television viewing affects synaptic
connections in the brain in the manner they hypothesize, given that no
such neuronal connections were studied. All it has demonstrated is an
association, and a weak one at that. A correlation, no matter how strong,
cannot prove a causal connection between the related variables. The
causal arrow in this case could just as easily go the other way--attention
problems cause children to watch more television, as opposed to doing
other things that require sustained attention. This makes just as much
sense as the causal direction the authors wish to imply--that television
exposure causes attention problems.”
What about touch-screen devices?
AAP media recommendations:
Christakis, D.A. (2014). Interactive Media Use at Younger Than the Age
of 2 Years: Time to Rethink the American Academy of Pediatrics
Guideline? JAMA Pediatrics.
Linn, S. (March 19, 2014). Still no evidence that touch screens are good
for babies. HuffPost Science: (Director, Campaign for a CommercialFree Childhood)
A balanced viewpoint, by a science
writer and mom
Guernsey, L. (2012, 2007).
Screen Time: How Electronic
Media—From Baby Videos
to Educational Software—
Affects Your Young Child.